It is the middle of the night, and I have just spent the last couple hours squinting at well over 50 little color coded wires, two of which may or may not be my phone line. This all started so innocently. I ordered phone service for the place in which I now live. It is a live/work space in West Oakland — that is basically a converted warehouse. I like it a lot, but the phone wiring leaves much to be desired.

The fellow who was supposed to wire my phone line showed up one day. He checked the wiring in the phone room, which was good. Then he told me (because I was running late and kept him waiting a while) that he was low on time, but if I wanted to pay him on the side, that he could find the wiring and wire a jack for me for $50, as opposed to the $120 charged by Pacific Bell (a truly evil company). I thought this sounded kosher, so I agreed. I called him up a few days later, and he showed up with all of his phone line testing stuff. He was just as thrown off by the funky wiring in this place as I was. It doesn't help much that my roommate has 3 different wires running about the place, all splicing into each other. He was not able to find the line anywhere, but we weren't looking in the right place. I think I discovered where the main wiring comes in a little bit later. I was supposed to call him back at some point, but I never did, figuring that I could just do it myself. (I have a little experience wiring phone jacks; it is not that difficult.) After taking apart the bit of the wall that seems to be where all of the main wiring comes through, I discovered a huge bundle of 50 wires, any of which could be my line.

I went down to Radio Shack, bought a 2 line phone jack and a line tester. Tonight, after much procrastination, I hooked up my roommate's many spliced lines to one end of the jack, and proceeded to match the color coded wires and test them on the other end. To my dismay, after testing well over 20 pairs of wires, I am completely confused, despondent and quickly losing the will to live. The last 5 pairs don't seem to match. I think calling PacBell and paying money may be my best bet.

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